The simple rules for rope in Torchbearer’s gear chapter are perfectly suitable for most campaigns, but rope has a special place in the pantheon of adventuring gear. Just like torches and rations, a strong rope is often the only thing keeping you from a grisly death. These advanced rope rules are for players and GMs who want to get creative with rope and wish to know exactly how much of that 50-foot coil remains.
A fathom is the amount of rope you can hold between outstretched arms—about 6 feet of rope.
That’s enough to:
- Secure a line to a stable point.
- Secure a person to the line.
- Restrain one person’s hands or feet.
- Burn as tinder for +1D on Survivalist tests.
- Rig a trap for +1D on Hunter tests.
- Use fibers for necessary Weaver supplies.
- Secure an additional container with a Laborer test.
- Whatever else the GM says you can do with about 6 feet of rope.
You can stack 4 fathoms of coiled rope in a single pack slot. Rope bought as gear comes in a 50-foot coil; that amounts to 8 fathoms plus some slack, so two pack slots.
You can track the rope by fathoms in your inventory like so:
- Rope (4)
- Rope (4)
By way of example, you could also cut an 8-fathom rope into two 4-fathom ropes, then fit them each in a single pack slot in two separate containers.
Coils and Jumbles
Adventurers will typically coil a rope carefully before packing it away. In general, if you are safe enough to eat rations, you can coil a rope properly. Otherwise you may need to transport your rope as a jumble, which takes up twice as many slots.
Securing a Rope
With some exceptions, a rope is most useful when it is secured to something stable. Grappling hooks and iron spikes are handy pieces of gear that allow you to secure a rope without wasting any length on knots.
You can also secure a rope without any special gear by tying a knot. When you use a knot to secure a rope, you risk one fathom of its length. Subtract that fathom from the total length of the line until it is recovered.
Recovering a Rope
If you are not in immediate danger or distracted you can recover a secured line. Roll 1D6 for each knotted fathom—on a result of 4+, you recover one fathom whole. Otherwise, the fathom is hopelessly knotted or shredded in the recovery attempt.
If you are in danger or distracted you can simply cut the line and abandon the knotted fathom. You might also attempt a Dungeoneer or Sailor test to recover the entire rope quickly or without losing any length; the GM determines if it is even possible to do so.
Rope Recovery Factors
- Length of Rope: up to four fathoms, up to 8 fathoms, up to 16 fathoms
- Stowage (Jumble is free): Coiled
You can split a rope into individual fathoms as needed, as long as you possess a sharp tool capable of cutting the rope. Beware, this process is difficult to reverse.
Joining — Knotting and Splicing
When you knot two lengths of rope together, you risk one fathom from each length.
With a bit of time and effort, a Weaver can splice two ropes together. Factor one to lose one fathom, and factor two to join the ropes with no loss of length.
Types of Rope
This is the kind you find in most markets. Recover on 4+. Resources Ob 2 for 8 fathoms.
A pricier option that is stronger and easier to recover. Recover on 3+. Resources Ob 4 for 8 fathoms.
Fancy rope that practically manages itself . Recover on 2+. Never jumbles. Resources Ob 6 for 8 fathoms.
- Your foot is tangled in the line.
- You trip over the line at the worst time.
- Fast moving rope will burn your hands if you grab it.
- The climber on the end of the rope bashes into something.
- The lead climber loses their grip, followers must hang tight.
- The rope whips back and hits someone.
- The rope is slipping away, grab it!
- The world’s biggest knot has formed.
- The rope is about to break, everything below that point hangs by a thread.
- Two people are tied together by an arm or leg. No time to get free, you’ll have to work together!
- The payload swings like a pendulum and threatens to clock anyone beneath it.
- A kink in the rope threatens to crush your hand.
- Your backpack becomes snagged on the line.
- Something else is climbing the rope.
- Someone or something is pulling the rope up from above.
- Just as you are about to mantel the ledge, you see the grapnel is only supported by a tiny sapling about to give way.
- The rope catches fire.
- The rope is frozen solid.
- The prisoner escapes and your rope is split.
- The line is rubbing against a jagged rock edge.
- A couple of feet short. You’re going to have to swing!